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Formal Statement – WDRC and SCCQ Partnership

Mayor Paul McVeigh

2 September, 2021

Western Downs Regional Council is negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with not-for-profit provider Southern Cross Care Queensland for the possible transfer of Council’s residential aged and community care facilities and services.

The MOU covers the Tarcoola Aged Care Facility, Tara, and the Carinya Aged Care Facility, Miles, as well as the Council’s Community Home Care Services and associated assets in Western Downs.

At a special meeting on (September 2, 2021), Council voted to approve the MOU as the basis upon which to negotiate contracts to effect the transfer.

In a separate agreement, Council also agreed to appoint Southern Cross Care Queensland as interim managers of Tarcoola Aged Care Facility. This decision successfully secures the continuing operation of Tarcoola which had been facing closure because of staff shortages.

Negotiations with Southern Cross Care Queensland under the MOU are progressing well. Subject to a successful outcome, the proposed transfer of Council’s aged and community care facilities and services is expected to take until the end of March next year to complete.

Because of confidentiality reasons, Council is unable to reveal any further details at this stage.

However, residents can be assured that Council will be focussed on achieving the best possible outcome for the Western Downs region throughout these negotiations and will stringently uphold its obligations under the Local Government Act to provide financial accountability and integrity.

Council has been working hard over many years to secure a specialist provider to grow and improve our health services in the Western Downs and we are delighted to now be dealing with such a respected and experienced organisation as Southern Cross Care Queensland.

Both parties are going into these negotiations with a great deal of confidence and respect and it would be a significant outcome for the Western Downs Region if we successfully reached a final agreement.

As an accredited provider, Southern Cross Care Queensland brings state-wide infrastructure and expertise gained from more than 40 years’ experience in aged care. The organisation employs more than 1000 staff and provides services to more than 1400 Queenslanders residing in 11 aged care facilities and five retirement villages as well as those receiving in-home care. Southern Cross Care Queensland already successfully operates a residential aged care facility, Illoura in Chinchilla, in the Western Downs as well as residential aged care homes in rural regions including Taroom, Nanango and Murgon.

Council is particularly pleased that Southern Cross Care Queensland has agreed to operate Tarcoola under a new management arrangement to take effect from September 6, 2021.

Because of persistent staffing problems, Council reluctantly voted last month to proceed with a planned, controlled and respectful closure of Tarcoola after receiving legal and clinical advice that it could no longer continue to operate the facility safely and in accordance with its legislative and ethical standards of care.

Council has directed that the closure process now ceases immediately as Southern Cross Care Queensland has given Council assurances that it can leverage its considerable expertise and resources to provide quality care to the residents of Tarcoola.

As shown by this development, Council has never lost sight of its paramount duty of care to the community and stuck to its commitment to work hard behind the scenes to find a solution that would allow aged care to remain in Tara.

Council certainly appreciates the patience, respect and understanding shown by the residents and staff of Tarcoola, as well as the local Tara community, during what has been a difficult time. In particular, Council has greatly valued the input of the Tarcoola working party and the Tara Futures Group with whom we met and discussed the matter at length.

Read the full media release here

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